The Los Angeles Angels and the Tampa Bay Rays begin a three-game American League series on Friday night in Florida. Los Angeles swept the Rays in a four-game set at home earlier this season.
The first pitch of Friday night’s contest is set for 7:10 p.m. EST at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. According to oddsmakers, Tampa Bay is the heads-up favorite (-155), and the run total is pegged at 8.5.
Angels Slipping as First Half Closes
With a few weeks remaining before the All-Star break, the Los Angeles Angels have lost six of its last nine contests, including three in a row. The Angels were swept in a two-game series against the San Francisco Giants this week, getting outscored 14-3 in the process. Los Angeles finds themselves in fourth place in the American League West standings.
Los Angeles sends Griffin Canning (5-4, 5.07 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) to the mound to try and get the Angels back on track. Canning has pitched well over his last two starts, throwing 11.2 innings and allowing three earned runs. On the year, the 25-year old right-hander has compiled 55.0 innings of work with 31 earned runs given up on 53 hits.
Offensively, the Halos average 4.9 runs per game behind the fourth-best team batting average in the majors (.255). Shohei Ohtani is second in the MLB with 23 home runs and third in runs batted in (54). First baseman Jared Walsh has also emerged as an offensive threat, leading the team with a .292 batting average.
After Seven-Straight Losses, Rays Back on Track
Tampa Bay had lost seven in a row and fell out of the top spot in the AL East but fought back with a pair of victories over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday and Thursday to end the bleeding and regain the top spot. The Rays own a half-game lead in the AL East pecking order heading into the weekend.
Right-hander Andrew Kittredge (5-1, 1.27 ERA, 0.88 WHIP) will be used as an opener Friday night, with the bullpen handling most of the work. Kittredge hasn’t thrown more than two innings in any outing this season. The 31-year hasn’t surrendered an earned run over his last six appearances.
The Rays score 4.8 runs per game behind a .227 team batting average, second-worst in the AL. Four starters for Tampa have hit ten or more home runs this season, lead by designated hitter Austin Meadows with 16. Meadows sits in sixth in the MLB with 52 RBIs.
The Angels were off yesterday as they traveled across the country while the Rays won a nailbiter on a wild pitch late Thursday night. This will be the first time the Rays see Canning this season on the mound.
With the cross country travel and Rays playing an intense divisional game last night, expect both teams to come out slow in the series opener. This will be a low-scoring game, with a run total of around six or seven.
The Pick: Angels/Rays UNDER 8.5